Ms. Smockity , a mother of seven children who home schools her children, often offers wonderful bits of wisdom (laced with humor) on her blog. Her past two blog entries contain great suggestions about love and respect in marriage. She first mentions a book with the title "Love and Respect" that sounds interesting. I could still learn more about love and respect--even after 42 years of marriage. Next Ms. Smockity says that she has learned a lot during her 24 years of marriage and shares a list of 12 things she has learned NOT to do to her husband. Her writing is humorous but her points contain a great deal of wisdom for maintaining a good marriage.
Today I am going to talk about making gifts instead of buying gifts. I know Christmas is a long way off, but it is not too early for me to begin thinking about gifts if I plan on making them.
First of all, I try to think of things that I can make from "found" items or things we have around the house. Recently I found some old, weathered fence wood in my husband's pile of wood. It has nice knots in it and I pictured a wooden cross carved with the knot hole in the middle. If the wood has a natural hole in it, I thought about inserting a stone in the hole--perhaps turquoise or something I might find at our local bead shop. I marked off several crosses that might be interesting and now I need to get my saw out to make the rough shape. Then I will sand until it is smooth and in the shape I want. I will finish it off by rubbing it with a number of coats of tung oil and using steel wool between each coat of oil. I love working with wood and seeing the lovely grain as it appears with the tung oil.
Last year my granddaughters made luminarias out of cans--soup cans, vegetable cans, etc. They removed the labels, filled the empty cans with water and froze them until hard. Then they drew designs on the cans and used nails to puncture the cans to make their designs. I put a candle inside the one they sent me and I keep it on my hearth where it looks very pretty in the winter time.
I am still busy knitting dish cloths or wash cloths. I found some lovely new all-cotton yarn at Hobby Lobby that is very soft--doesn't feel like cotton at all and the colors are lovely. I plan to pick some blackberries/dewberries in the next couple of weeks and make jam or preserves. I figure a pretty basket with a knit dish cloth, a kitchen utensil and a jar or two of jam will make nice gifts for the neighbors.
Since I am still oil painting, I have at least two pictures in mind to paint for favorite people who have expressed a wish to have one of my paintings. The picture below is of a water lily and is for an art show in October. I am really a slow painter, so I started early. Soon as I finish this painting, I need to get started on my Christmas pictures. Do you have any favorite things that you can begin making now for Christmas gift-giving?
We have had an intruder in our backyard. About three years ago a neighbor began getting bamboo along his back fence. He said he did not know where it came from but he thought it would be easy to control and told us not to worry about it invading our backyard. Up until late last summer he was right, but last summer we found a shoot that appeared near the fence ON OUR SIDE. My husband sprayed it with Roundup and hoped that would be a quick way to take care of the bamboo. A couple of days ago he called me to look near our fence where lots of little bamboo shoots were poking up. The Roundup had not taken care of the problem.
My husband decided to dig up the roots below the shoots and the pictures below show the full story of that first little shoot that became a BIG stalk with LOTS of little shoots following along behind it.
Our six-foot friend is holding the underground shoot that my husband dug up after it crept under our fence. Each of those little root junctures had a shoot ready to pop through the soil.
We have decided that bamboo is REALLY INVASIVE. Does anyone have a clue about how to control it?
Last week, in the midst of all our other busyness, we slipped off for a quick overnight visit with Son #4 and his family. We had such a great time with Miss Ella Bella who is two but going on seven, I believe. She spent the evening showing us her daddy's fire trucks.
Grandson #2 also put in his two cents' worth during the tour. And hubby got to climb up in the big truck to inspect whatever was up there. Next we went to their home so Miss Ella Bella and Grandson #2 could introduce us to their new puppy, Sally. The next morning Miss Ella Bella showed her Granddaddy that she was going to take the little leopard that he brought her to school "for nap time." And Grandson #2 told us good-bye from his car seat--holding the marlin that Granddaddy gave him. Next we stopped off for a very short visit with Son #1 before going on to a luncheon and returning home. The trip was way too short, but we really enjoyed seeing everyone!
Thinking about living more frugally always sparks my creativity and pushes me to find ways to make our money go farther. My husband has always changed the oil in our car and done simple repairs himself. I have learned to darn holes in the toes of my socks and mend my clothes. I reuse our plastic grocery bags for trash can liners rather than buying them in the grocery store. All of these are ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Recently I realized that these efforts have helped us save a few dollars here. This allows us to save for our future and for a few treats along the way.
Since grocery shopping is the most frequent shopping I do, I thought I would give you a few hints that I am trying to incorporate into my buying.
This week I had time to read the grocery ads, make my list based on meats and vegetables on sale, and then add my coupons for a few extra savings.
Lately I have begun using store brands on items which are often 25 to 50% cheaper than the name brand products.
I make a grocery list during the week and then, when shopping, I try to stick to what's on my shopping list to avoid impulse buying.
Terri Tiffany at http://terri-treasures.blogspot.com/ has posted some interesting questions about writing and publishing that she would like to have answered. I thought that some of you writers who read my blog might help her with answers because those are questions that I cannot answer myself!
Today's entry for Frugal Friday will be short because I am totally involved in our church's 25 Anniversary Celebration which is this weekend. It is so exciting to be a part of planning and making it happen.
Here is something I borrowed from http://www.clutterdietblog.com/ which is a blog that is helping me be more organized. Lori talks about the lessons that we can learn from bees and she says that "Bees bring home only as much as they can carry. They have pollen baskets on their legs that help collect pollen and bring it back to the hive. They do not have Hummers that they can load up at the "Costco of flowers" and bring home excessive amounts of stuff they don't need. They also know exactly what they are shopping for and don't deviate from their lists."
I have talked about the value of making lists when shopping. I must say that making a list and sticking to it is very important in saving money. When I go to Sam's or one of the big shopping places, it is so easy to get side-tracked into buying things I don't need by big displays and enticing items not on my list. Happy shopping (with lists) this weekend.
Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there. I hope your special day is a wonderful day! And a special Happy Mother's Day to the wonderful mothers of my grandchildren! As a tribute to my own mother who is now 94, I am adding this story about her to my blog today.
I am my mother’s firstborn child and it was five years before my sister was born and seven years before my brother was born. Daddy was away for much of my first five years because of World War II. Mother and I were close during my early years and I suspect that time together helped us to forge a wonderful relationship that has lasted for more than sixty years.
My mother has always been a gentle, caring, upbeat person and she spent untold hours with the three of us children. She read to us, helped us with our homework, and let us help her work in the yard. I remember her violets in the back yard when I was very young in Pampa. In Amarillo she had day lilies all along one side of our house, roses on the fence, and beautiful iris of all colors that she brought over from Mammy’s house. Mother was a great cook, although many things that she made came out of a can or box. I did not learn to cook “from scratch” until I married and left home. However, I do remember Mother’s marvelous cornbread that she served with a pot of pinto beans; her applesauce squares, pineapple upside-down cakes, and the date loaf candy that she made for Christmas.
With Mother’s help and guidance we learned to sew, knit, crochet, embroider, bead and to do almost every craft imaginable. She loved trying new things and let us work along with her. One year we did copper tooling, another year we beaded Styrofoam balls for Christmas and papier-mâché fruit another year. We watched her learn to make silver jewelry, create lovely needlework, knit sweaters and crochet Afghans. When our brother, Joe, joined an Indian Dance group through Boy Scouts, we all pitched in to make and bead his costumes and watch as he made his cast silver jewelry. I suspect that there were not many crafts that Mother did not try herself and she was eager to help us try anything we wanted. One year for Christmas I got leather tools and a mallet because I had expressed an interest in making a tooled belt. Another year we got a wood burning set and burned some interesting pictures into wood plaques and wooden boxes. I still have a wooden music box that I burned my name into and then varnished.
Mother has always been a marvelous listener, very easy to talk to and there was almost nothing that I did not tell her. I have always enjoyed being with Mother and consider her one of my best friends, as well as an advisor and supporter. After I grew up and left home, I looked forward to going home and staying up late talking to Mother—pouring my heart out to her and listening to her words of wisdom—given freely.
It is wonderful to have been gifted with such a talented and caring Mother!
Someone sent me this e-mail earlier this week and I thought it was a meaningful Frugal Friday piece. It is not my original writing but something someone sent me that is floating around in e-mails without an author identified. However, I thought it contained good information that I would like to pass on to you!
Subject: Economic Solution
In our current economic situation, every little thing we buy or do affects someone else and perhaps even their job. So, after reading this email, I think this lady is on the right track. Let's get behind her!!
My grandson likes Hershey's candy. It is marked made in Mexico now. So I do not buy it any more. My favorite toothpaste, Colgate, is made in Mexico now. I have switched to Crest. You have to read the labels on everything.
This past weekend I was at Kroger. I needed 60W light bulbs and Bounce dryer sheets. I was in the light bulb aisle and right next to the GE brand I normally buy was an off brand labeled, "Everyday Value." I picked up both types of bulbs and compared the stats - they were the same except for the price. The GE bulbs were more money than the Everyday Value brand but the thing that surprised me the most was the fact that GE was made in MEXICO and the Everyday Value brand was made in - get ready for this - the USA in a company in Cleveland , Ohio. So throw out the myth that you cannot find products you use every day that are made right here.
So on to another aisle - Bounce Dryer Sheets....yep, you guessed it, Bounce cost more money and is made in Canada . The Everyday Value brand was less money and MADE IN THE USA! I did laundry yesterday and the dryer sheets performed just like the Bounce Free I have been using for years and at almost half the price!
So my challenge to you is to start reading the labels when you shop for everyday things and see what you can find that is made in the USA - the job you save may be your own or your neighbors! If you accept the challenge, pass this information on to others so we can all start buying American, one light bulb at a time! And also stop buying from China ..........(We should have awakened a decade ago...... ) Let's get with the program.... help our fellow Americans keep their jobs and stimulate more jobs here in the U.S.A
This past weekend, at the very last minute, we agreed to meet Son #1 and his family for a short day visit at my brother-in-laws place in the country. We had lunch together and then my daughter-in-law, eldest granddaughter and grandson headed for the mall to find tennis shoes and other necessities while Son #1, hubby and brother-in-law did their guy-thing which, in our family, usually includes raising the hood of a car and leaning in to see what makes the thing tick. Well, they probably have more technical terms for what they are doing, but to the female members of the family, that's what it looks like to us.
Here are a few pictures so that those of you who know our family can see how the grandchildren have grown.
A family portrait! It must have been the girls day to wear turquoise.
Granddaughter #1 is really growing up! She tells me she is going to summer school so she can graduate next year. I am really proud of her! Grandson #1 is also growing up. I understand he just bought his first car. That was a surprise! But he has to figure out how to put it back together before he can drive it--AFTER he gets his driver's license. I think he would have preferred staying with the guys and looking under the hood of the car rather than going to the mall, but his mother thought it would be difficult to buy him shoes in absentia!
A final map consultation before we left. Our visit was short, but we had fun! I am always grateful for these times that we can spend together.
I need to update my wardrobe and a couple of my pants are shiny on the bottom or wearing thin. I am planning my "frugal" approach to adding a few new items to my closet. I have shopped the sale racks in nearby department stores and have come away empty-handed. Things there either do not appeal to my tastes or are too expensive for me to consider. Since they say that our city has dozens of thrift, consignment, resale, vintage and secondhand stores with wonderful designer bargains, I think that I will check out some of these "bargain" stores and see what I can come up with.
The first rule that I will impose on my shopping spree is to put a set amount of cash in an envelope for my clothes shopping expedition. I learned that tactic from my daughter-in-law, Kara, who has envelopes of cash each month for food, entertainment, clothing, and so on. That way they know in their family how much money they have for each category and that helps them judge their purchases more carefully.
The next thing I will do is make a list of the items I need and stick to that list to avoid impulse buying.